Zamoyski deserves praise for his selection of sources. Unlike some recent works that rely on the accounts of contemporaries who abhorred Napoleon, Napoleon: A Life incorporates the voices of those who were both for and against him, and, even more important, those who were observers and not politically polarized ... Although his book fills more than 700 pages, it moves quickly, and Zamoyski adeptly avoids getting bogged down in any specific topic ... one of the finest biographies of Napoleon Bonaparte ever written.
Engaging and highly readable ... What sets Mr. Zamoyski apart from countless other biographers is his ability to (1) provide context to the factors that made Napoleon a constant warrior and (2) to explore his restoration of order to post-revolutionary France ... An inclusive life of a historical dynamo.
The French are going to hate this book ... Napoleon has, for the most part, enjoyed an easy ride from historians, who are usually too intoxicated by his daring military victories to notice his serious flaws ... Zamoyski’s research is meticulous, his writing sublime, but the story suffers because of his admirable refusal to indulge in romantic fantasy. This is probably one of the truest biographies of Napoleon, but unfortunately the truth can sometimes be dull. That qualification aside, this book undoubtedly needed to be written.